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Why I wrote my online board paper course

Write to Govern

By Mary Morel | February 2017

I wrote my online board paper course, Write to Govern: How to write board and committee papers so organisations could:

  • Tailor it to suit their board paper requirements. Tailored online learning is more effective than generic training for board papers because each board’s requirements are different. A generic course can teach the basic principles, but tailoring makes the course more meaningful.
  • Use it in conjunction with face-to-face training. In my experience, online learning is more effective when integrated into an organisation’s in-house training program. Face-to-face learning has the advantage of being personal and immediate, and participants can ask questions. Online learning has the advantage of being more reflective because participants are engaged with the content for longer.

What the Write to Govern course covers

The Write to Govern course consists of five main sections:

  • Boards
  • Planning
  • Templates
  • Writing
  • Reviewing and editing
  • Presenting

A distinguishing feature of the course is that it has 11 podcasts (interviews) with industry experts on topics such as the board’s expectation of board papers, and how to write about strategy, risk and financial information.

How the course can be tailored

The course can be tailored by:

  • Including interviews with your key stakeholders, such as the CEO, chair and company secretary
  • Adding your templates and guidelines
  • Using real examples of previous board papers in the activities

Sections of the course that can be tailored

Boards
‘Write for your audience’ is a fundamental writing principle. While the role of the board is well-documented, each board is different because of its composition and the concerns facing the organisation at the time.

The course can be tailored in this section by including written or oral interviews with key players, such as the CEO, chair and company secretary. Many writers never have direct access to the board and know very little about their own organisation’s directors. For these writers, learning about the board is a highlight of any board paper training.

Templates
The template section of the course can be tailored by the addition of your organisation’s own templates and guidelines, and real examples could be used in the activities. A podcast with the company secretary or person responsible for compiling the papers would be useful here to talk about the process and why deadlines matter.

This online course is particularly useful when organisations are introducing changes to their templates and want to encourage people to use them consistently. When writers learn how to use their template well, their writing skills improve. If they write clear and specific recommendations, directors can no longer say: ‘I don’t know what this paper is about or what it is asking for.’ (This is a common complaint.)

Writing a summary is an art and a good summary, coupled with a clear recommendation, sets the scene for a compelling paper. Too often, the summary is an introduction or background without any of the key messages. If writers nail the recommendation and summary, the rest of the paper is more likely to flow logically and coherently.

Other sections
All the other sections could also be tailored with insights, interviews and examples. For example, ‘Presenting’ could be tailored with some tips on how your board views presentations, and some advice from people who’ve presented to the board.

Contact me

Contact me on 02 9365 7711 or 0400 686 600 or mary@writetogovern.com.au if you’d like to discuss this course.

 

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